The tragic death of 46-year-old African American George Floyd through excessive restraint by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has triggered widespread condemnation, not just across the United States of America but in major cities around the world, including London, Berlin, and Auckland. Prominent figures from sport have also ultimately spoken out.
Basketball’s paragon Michael Jordan, arguably the most famous and imitated athlete of all time, made a profound but rare political statement in which he solemnly expressed, “I am deeply saddened, truly pained and plain angry,” Jordan wrote in a statement posted, “I stand with those who are calling out the ingrained racism and violence toward people of color in our country. We have had enough.”
African American teenage tennis star Coco Gauff, who defeated seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams in the first round of Wimbledon 2019 and entered the tennis top 50 aged just 15, asked ‘Am I next?’ The 16-year-old made good on her promise to "always use my platform to help make the world a better place," released a video protesting killings of African Americans in the US with hard-hitting captions:
"This is why I am using my voice to fight against racism.”
"I am using my voice," the caption concludes, "Will you use yours?"
Golfing great Tiger Woods, 15-times Major champion, was likewise eloquent when discussing Floyd’s death, as a man of colour. "I have always had the utmost respect for our law enforcement,” he began on his Twitter handle, “They train so diligently to understand how, when and where to use force.
"This shocking tragedy clearly crossed that line."
Chauvin has been sacked (along with three other arresting officers) and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
All-time boxing legend Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather has put his considerable estimated $500m wealth to good use. The retired Mayweather will now cover the cost of the funeral expenses for George Floyd, with TMZ Sports tweeting a photograph of a cheque from Mayweather to George Floyd's funeral service for $88,500.
One of the most vocal in outrage has been the British six-time Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who not only expressed his personal anger, but produced a scathing criticism of his contemporaries within motorsport.
"I see those of you staying silent, some of you the biggest stars yet you stay in the midst of injustice,” he said via Instagram, “Not a sign from anybody in my industry which of course is a white dominated sport. I'm one of the only people of colour there yet I stand alone. I would have thought by now you would see why this happens and say something about it but you can't stand alongside us.
“Just know I know who you who you are (sic) and I see you.”
In the wake of Hamilton’s statement, fellow drivers Charles Leclerc, Daniel Ricciardo, Lando Norris, Nicholas Latifi and Sergio Perez have consequently provided their own thoughts.
“Seeing the news the last few days has left me saddened, what happened to George Floyd and what continues to happen in today's society is a disgrace,” said the Australian Ricciardo, “Now more than ever we need to stand together, unified together.
“Racism is toxic and needs to be addressed not with violence or silence but with unity and action. We need to stand up, we need to be a WE. Let's be better people. It's 2020 ffs. Black lives matter.”
“To be completely honest, I felt out of place and uncomfortable sharing my thoughts on social media about the whole situation and this is why I haven't expressed myself earlier than today,” offered 22-year-old Monégasque Ferrari driver Leclerc, “And I was completely wrong.
“I still struggle to find the words to describe the atrocity of some videos I've seen on the Internet. Racism needs to be met with actions, not silence. Please be actively participating, engaging and encouraging others to spread awareness.
"It is our responsibility to speak out against injustice. Don't be silent. I stand #BlackLivesMatters.”
Billionaire Steve Bisciotti, the majority owner of the NFL franchise the Baltimore Ravens, has pledged $1m for social justice reform, accompanying it with the heartfelt statement, "There is nothing I can say to ease the pain felt by African American communities across our country. No words will repair the damage that has been done.
"Like many people, I am sickened, disheartened and shaken by the acts of racism that continue to overwhelm our society.
"Now, more than ever, we must all strengthen our pursuit of positive change, as we stand with peaceful protestors around the country.
"We must all seek to understand by listening better and learning more. We must all discover new ways to unite. We must all work to break the cycle of systematic racial injustice."
In association football, the recently reunited Liverpool team made an unusually bold statement by ‘taking the knee’ around the Anfield centre circle in a sign of solidarity.
The weekend’s hattrick hero Jadon Sancho revealed a 'Justice for George Floyd' shirt while celebrating a goal for Borussia Dortmund against Paderbon. He was promptly booked for the demonstration by referee Daniel Siebert.
Similarly, remaining in the German Bundesliga, the Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie - who hails from Fort Lewis, Washington - wore an armband reading “Justice for George” for his match against Werder Bremen.
“To be able to use my platform to bring attention to a problem that has been going on to long [sic] feels good!!!” McKennie exclaimed on Twitter.
“We have to stand up for what we believe in and I believe that it is time that we are heard! #justiceforgeorgefloyd #saynotoracism
Footballing wunderkind Kylian Mbappé, 21, posted an image to his 4.2million Twitter followers, depicting harmony between racially diverse societies and authorities, titled ‘Police With Us, Not Against Us’
Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford drew further attention to the cause in England, also using the social media channel to not only cite the case of George Floyd, but also for Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old African American man who was fatally shot near Brunswick in Glynn County, Georgia, while jogging in February this year, and Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African American woman who was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department officers the month after Arbery’s death..
“I know you guys haven't heard from me in a few days,” began Rashford, “I've been trying to process what is going on in the world.
“At a time I've been asking people to come together, work together and be united, we appear to be more divided than ever. People are hurting and people need answers.
“Black lives matter. Black culture matters. Black communities matter. We matter.
“#justiceforgeorgefloyd #justiceforahmaudarbery #justiceforbreonnataylor.”